Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Essentials: Things learned early - Potty Training

Zuko had great bladder control early on. Books said puppies would need to go out every hour and he easily was more like every 2-3 hours from the beginning. We found his patterns quickly: after playing, after eating and after napping, he would need to go out. Any time he was in a new area with other dogs (the dog park, puppy class) he would have to poop after about five minutes of playing. It was a little embarrassing - we'd take him for walks and he'd poop, then get into puppy class and there he would go again. I remember reading somewhere that the smell of other dogs will "stimulate" a puppy to go. Ugh.

He also slept through the night early on - somewhere around four months he was able to go eight hours without trouble. I probably was more paranoid than I needed to be - I would often wake him in the middle of the night, drag him out of his crate and carry him outside in the cold. He'd stand there and stare at me. We did crate train, but after he was about five months old we ditched the crate and now he hogs our entire king-size bed.

We also worked on a potty command "go potty", saying these words EVERY TIME he did anything. He's now 18 months old and frankly - he's a Shiba so I'm not sure how well this works. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Clearly Pavlov did not run his experiment on Shiba Inus.

I assume most dogs do this, but it impressed me that early on he made the association that he was not to go potty in places where his people were hanging out. We realized he had made this association when we were eating lunch at a cafe and he was still under about six months old. He kept whining, so my husband took him over to a grassy spot - and sure enough, he had to go. I have no idea if this was the Shiba in him or what, but he has never gone in the car, the bedroom, while we are with him at a cafe, in a store - nothing. When he does go on walks, he will go to the furthest end of his flexi-leash and then poop. The exception to this is pee-ing. He will mark every thing within sight on walks if we let him. He's also always been great in stores - not just pet stores, but clothing stores, hardware stores - anyplace that will let him come in, he's been. And never peed!

We also learned (the hard way) that when he is really, really tired he just does not have to go. He had a longer than usual day at doggie daycare one day when he was about eight months old. I brought him home around 5pm. He roused himself to eat about 6pm, and then sacked out again. He didn't go potty that night and I was worried. The next morning - nothing. So I fed him and he FINALLY went outside and took care of all his business. I was so worried when it happened again on another night when he was super tired. I called the vet and asked if it was normal that my dog didn't go to the bathroom for 18 hours straight. While it isn't exactly "normal", it isn't something to panic about either. He's good about telling us when he needs to go, so I tend to just trust him now. Being a paranoid new-puppy mommy, I really stressed about this for a few months. What I slowly figured out was he (literally) poops himself out at daycare sometimes and has got nothin'. Just nothin'!

When we have to "force" him to go, we have a couple of games we play which cause him to jump around alot - after about 10 minutes of this, he's ready to go outside.

My two biggest lessons learned:
1) Keep a routine with feedings. This helps you predict when and how often your puppy needs to go.
2) Once you have a routine, know your dog. For example, Zuko likes to pee on bushy plants to mark and poop in sand. I know this and never go to the beach without at least 2-3 poop bags.

-- Posted by Prince Zuko's pooper scooper

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